Friday, December 8, 2017

RIP Sunny Murray

This album was  my introduction to his great work........





Happy Friday, short post....

And here's Mark Guiliana, presenting some very creative ways of making acoustic drums sound like electronic drums. Very cool.



Monday, November 27, 2017

One Piece at a Time Part 2; Snare Drum

In my continuing series where I look at each piece of the modern drum set individually, I will now focus on the snare drum.
The snare is the instrument that ia probably most associated with the drum set's military origins. As with the bass drum drum, it can be tuned to many different pitches with the added factor of how tight or loose the snares are. Whether the drum is metal, wood, or even fibreglass is also a factor

There's the delightful "splat" that players like the great Stan Lynch get.....



To the beautiful "crack" Roy Haynes achieves...




Of, course, if you turn the snares off, you have another tom, which Al Foster demonstrates so well in this frankly MAGICAL drum solo....


In conclusion, as it is often the highest pitched, but also arguably the brightest drum in the drum set, the snare drum creates many moods.It  goes from New Orleans swampy marches, to thuddy backbeats or Jazz comping, sometimes in the context of one tune! It is an important part of our instrument, as well as our heritage.

See you soon......


Monday, November 20, 2017

One Piece at a Time Part 1: Bass Drum

This will be an intermittent series in which I look at all the components of the modern drum set individually. Now, many who know me will recall I often rant that the drum set should be viewed as one instrument, It is also true it is an instrument made of many instruments that stand alone as well.
I'll start with the Bass Drum. ( Don't you DARE call it the "K" word around here!) Although the bass drum can be tuned many different ways, it is the lowest pitch we're playing. It, along with the snare drum, are the parts of the drum set that harken back the most to their military origins. Playing four beats to the bar with the bass drum is a sound that permeates much of North American modern music, whether it's the pounding of Disco or Blues shuffles or the  light feathering in a Jazz trio.

The Bass Drum is a marker. It's low pitch helps us stop and reset the music. If  we think the band is lost, we play bass drum on beat one. Often, inexperienced drummers ( like yours truly not so long ago    ) will play beat one with the Bass Drum ( especially in a Jazz setting ) so often, it will feel like the tune is only one or two bars long! Playing Bass Drum on beat one of every bar is one of the many "security blankets" we have to let go of as we free up our playing.

There's many ways this fascinating ways the  instrument can sound too. From Elvin Jones' wide open ringy 18" drum.....





....to Steve Gadd's much bigger drum but much more muffled tone.



Or Jack DeJohnette's middle ground between the two...



Finally, I think of the modern drum set as having two major "sections", namely drums and cymbals. The drums give me images of earth. They are very grounded and grounding. The Bass Drum is especially earthbound. I find it interesting that the Bass Drum is the only part of the drum set where a major part of the instrument  itself, and not a stand, is touching the ground. What's more it's played with our foot. When the music needs it, we are literally "putting our foot down" to correct things. So, next time you're playing your drums, give some thought to our low-pitched earthy friend and how it fits into your music.

...until next time....









Saturday, November 18, 2017

RIP Ben Riley

Farewell to the great Ben Riley.  His artful swing and imaginative style propelled the bands of Thelonious Monk and many others. As well as enjoying  him on many recordings, I got to see him in Toronto and it was truly life-changing.






Sunday, November 12, 2017

Hurry, Don't delay, ACT NOW!

....And check out Four On The Floor's posting of this interview with Philly Joe Jones.

Thank you Jon, I owe you some Houston's Pizza! :)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The 6 to 1 ratio

No, this isn't some sticking formula or weight training for your ankles to make your feet faster. This is a concept i came up with while discussing practice pads on social media. Anyone who knows me or has read this blog in any depth knows I'm not a fan of playing anything you wouldn't actually play on a gig or a recording. That would be the dreaded practice pad. Yes, I'm aware that many of us ( myself included ) are in living situations where we cannot practice on drums at home. I totally understand that and at one point would have said that if playing drums isn't possible, by all means use the pad.  However, I think in my ( ahem ) advancing years I would amend that to say, " If you are a drummer with a reasonable amount of experience on the drums, if you can't physically play the drums because of the situation you're in, your time might be better spent working on other issues related to music rather than whacking your sticks on a piece of rubber or plastic!"

Okay, since we can't play the drums, what can we do with our practice time? Here are a few suggestions....


1. Learn tunes by ear. 
All you need is some source of a recording, your ears and memory, and your voice. You don't need the drums to learn repertoire, but this is a vitally important thing to practice.

2. Practice brushes.
Now I can hear you all saying, " That's pretty hypocritical! What's the difference between practicing sticks and working on brushes, sans drum?" Well, when we're playing brushes on an album cover, pizza box, telephone book, etc. we are still dealing with the SOUNDS we are making. My big beef with pads is they don't sound even remotely anything like a drum, and as far as I'm concerned, separating sound and technique isn't very useful!

Need more proof you don't need drums to effectively performing on brushes? Here's Kenny Clarke playing on a phone book accompanying Lennie Tristano and Charlie Parker. He plays a little tentatively at first, but by the end, he's killing it!



3. Practice another instrument.
Sad but true, you will get fewer noise complaints from practicing almost any other instrument other than drums. Why not practice keyboard? I would say at this point in my life, that's about 80% of my practice time, and I feel I've never played the drums better!

4. Mentally practice.
Work over what you were going to do, imagining how it would look, sound, and feel as vividly as you can. You will see a huge difference from doing this regularly!

Okay, I think I've made my point, except for the title of this post, so here it is.

"The difference in playing on a drum, ANY DRUM, as opposed to a pad is a 6:1 ratio. If we practice 10 minutes on a drum, that's as beneficial as playing for an hour on a pad. 1/2 an hour on a drum = 3 hours on a pad, etc."

-Ted Warren 2017


No, I have no science to back this up, just my own feeling, experience, and common sense. It's just my opinion, and you're all entitled to yours! Happy trails......

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Programming notes

            
 Hello folks,
Just wanted to mention a few thing to do with the blog. One, is that I realize that a lot of the posts lately have been conceptual rather than sort of nuts and bolts exercises. While I post these sort of things to get us thinking as much as playing the balance has been a bit out of whack lately. I have been going through some physical/health issues the last few years that have made me a little camera shy, so I haven't done many posts where people can actually see me. I have recently turned a corner with these issues, so I hope to start some video posts in the near future, as I currently have a lot of stuff to share.


The other note of note ( I kill me! You hope! ) is that although I strive to be positive in my little blog corner of the world, in the future I do plan to offer more of my opinions on things I don't agree with, and that aren't , in my opinion healthy, in the world of music. Now, I would never "call out" an individual on this, that's not my style and I don't think it's professional, but I might make veiled references here and there. Of course, if I'm in favour of something, I will "call out" enthusiastically. For example, I might say, " A current foot cymbal only shop in rural Saskatchewan did not provide me with the greatest customer experience". But, if I'm in favour of something I might say, " The next time you're in Esterhazy Saskatchewan, check out Phil's House of Hi-Hats!, They'll treat you right!" ( P.S. My best to all the great folks at Phil's!!!! )
So, anticipating these changes, please keep in mind my opinions are mine alone, and I still respect your right to yours, and expect respect in return!  So if I post something like, " Trixon bass drums have always looked like a flat tire to me!", please keep your responses clean!

Ta for now......

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Count or Ooooooooo Scary

Actually, this post is not about this Count ( although I have no doubt he'd be a fine bandleader ).


Rather, it's about the count in or the count off, depending on your use of terminology
An interesting discussion opened up on social media recently regarding bandleaders who change tempos DURING THE COUNT OFF! I have been this place more than once, and it can be truly painful. Mind you, I'm not talking about the odd time when this happens, but a chronic situation. I was surprised by how many people used terms like " let it flow' or " don't be a metronome " during this discussion. I'm certainly in favour of letting the music breathe, but people who habitually move the tempo they're counting off while it's in progress, are really demonstrating a lack of consistency and control. The tune starts from the count off, and everyone needs to be committed to that tempo. I heard thirdhand from a person that worked with Dizzy Gillespie that Dizzy spent a long time on his count offs so everyone in the band was very aware of the tempo.

Closely related to the above mentioned is the problem of people who count in a consistent tempo, but then realize it's not the tempo they wanted so then try to get the band to speed up or slow down to where they really wanted it. Again, unprofessional, to say the least. If you want to seriously annoy your drummer, this is a very effective way of doing it!

Also, there's the person who counts in the tune far outside it's practical tempo zone. Yes, playing tunes at extreme tempos is good for concentration etc., but in a performance setting it's amazing how difficult it makes them to play. Speaking of Dizzy, I once played " Groovin' High" at a medium slow tempo because of bad band leading, and I was flabbergasted at how silly the melody sounded at that speed! ( Maybe this happened to Dizzy too, and that's why later he was so aware of his count ins! )

Finally, a lot of problems are caused during the count off when it's NOT LOUD ENOUGH. I bust my students on this all the time, and I'm sitting only a couple of feet from them. How is somebody on the other side of a big band going to hear them?  I often have the the count ins delegated to me, simply because I do it so loudly!

So, if you can, talk to your bandleader about letting someone else count the tunes in, or of them being a little more aware of the tempo. Of course, if they are going to take offence to this and fire you, then it's probably best to grin and bear it.

Of course, none of this applies when Dee Dee Ramone is counting the song off.....




Happy Halloween, and I hope the ratio of of tricks to treats is to your liking......



Sunday, October 29, 2017

Ted Rides In A Time Machine or Portrait of the Artist as a young Doofus

No, I haven't discovered a machine that will make my time better. ( Although that would be awesome! ) 

In 1988, a big band of young Canadian musicians was assembled to play in honour of the winter olympics in Calgary. Rob McConnell led the band and by a recommendation and other flukes I was invited to be involved. Many long term musical relationships were formed from that experience. ( In fact, this week I'm doing 3 gigs that involved both bassist Jim Vivian and Saxophonist Perry White, who were both in the olympic band with me. I also eventually worked with the Boss Brass after that early meeting with Rob. It's sad to think that far fewer of these type of opportunities exist in this current political and economic climate. 

I had forgotten that the band was recorded and recently I was sent the mp3s of the performance. It is indeed strange to go back in time almost 30 years. It is, however ,fun to hear how I played the time, the way I tuned, the sorts of ideas I was playing, etc. I hadn't even recorded professionally yet at this point so to say I was green and rough around cannot be overstated. That said, there's a fun energy and enthusiasm that only a 22-year-old that thinks he has something to prove can provide.

The 2 mp3s are about 45 minutes each, so again, unless you're my Mom, I don't expect you to plow through all of it! It is, nevertheless, a nice capsule of a time gone by and of Rob McConnell's wacky sense of humour. Enjoy!






Friday, October 27, 2017

The Gig Triangle

Hey all,
I wanted to talk briefly about a concept I attributed to saxophonist Dave Neill, but now I am told it comes from former U of T prof Paul Read. Either way, here it is, the Gig triangle.



It's a simple enough concept. When one is deciding whether to take a gig, there are 3 main factors to consider. These factors are, the amount of musical satisfaction , ( top of the triangle ) , the quality of respect and attitude of the people involved,  ( left side ), and the fairness of the renumeration ( right side ). It was explained to me that if one doesn't potentially see at least 2 points of the triangle filled, then probably one shouldn't take the gig. ( Note: This applies to working professionals with a certain degree of experience. If one is just starting out, one should take almost ANY gig that comes your way!)

To conclude, here's some awesome footage of the great Jon Christensen. It has nothing to do with the rest of this post, but he's great, so it's worth checking out! :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

RIP Grady Tate

A great drummer/vocalist/actor that unfortunately I never got to see live.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Back to school cymbal blow out! NEW PRICES!

Sorry folks, this post is about commerce. Pure and cymbal! ( Ha! Typo, and I'm keeping it.) I currently own too much metal and have obtained enough old K. Zildjians to keep me happy for the rest of my existence! ( I currently do not endorse any brand of cymbals.) So I'm posting some video of the suspects in question, along with prices. ( In Canadian dollars). All reasonable offers will be considered. The videos are in the order that the cymbals are listed. If shipping is required, I'll look that up and add it to your total. Any questions? Put them in the comments section, email me at twarren@gto.net, or find me on Facebook or Twitter


For Sale: 20" Zildjian K. Constantinople Medium Thin ( High ) - $350

Murat Diril Renaissance 22" Prototype Ride- $450

Murat Diril 18" China Type Renaissance Light- $300

Murat Diril 20" Renaissance Light Ride- $350

14" Murat Diril Renaissance Regular Hi-Hats- $350

14" Murat Diril Renaissance Dark Hi-Hats- $350


















Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Another Day, Another Rant

Hi folks,
I've been  perusing social media lately ( always a treacherous thing for me ) and I keep running into references to Max Roach. Awesome right? Except that these people seem to always focus on how fast he can play. Mr. Roach certainly could play with a lot of velocity, but to focus on that is getting such a tiny part of the picture. One of the catalysts for all this discussion seems to be this album.  ( I'm just focusing on the track "Figure Eights", but you get the idea. )



In all honesty,  I love both Buddy and Max but this album really represents a lot of what I hate about how drums are presented. The "drum battle ' usually focuses on technique and doesn't take into account feel, sound, ideas, etc. So folks were talking about how Buddy won on this album. THERE IS NO WINNING OR LOSING IN MUSIC, THIS IS ART!

Buddy is great.
Max is great.
We have much to learn from both of them
End of story

Phew!

Okay, to end on a positive note and as a palette cleanser. ( You van find many better performances from Rich and Roach elsewhere ) here's the recently departed John Abercrombie with Michael Brecker, Marc Johnson, and Peter Erskine playing Johnson's wonderful "Samurai Hee Haw". Enjoy.



See? Music is wonderful when it isn't a competition!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Friday, August 18, 2017

Short and sweet with Stewart Copeland

A couple of very illuminating videos with Stewart Copeland. He was the first non-Jazz player to really inspire me to follow my own path. He's very witty as well.




Saturday, August 12, 2017

The information is only the beginning

Hey folks,
 Been practicing a to of piano for some gigs so I thought I'd dig into a bit of this video by the wonderful Keith Carlock.....





Great stuff. But when I recently started getting a chance to work on it, I tried the following variations. ( P.S. I tried all of these while singing " I Remember You" in my head.)

1. The lick as triplets.
2. The lick with a two-stroke buzz at the end rather than the doubles.
3. keeping 2 & 4 on the hi-hat during the above examples.
3. Substituting the bass drum for hi-hat in the lick. ( This can be quite challenging starting with the two notes on the left foot, especially as the tempos increase.) All the while feathering four on the bass drum.
4. Dividing the hand part of the lick between hi-hat and snare. Playing it as a funk groove/fill ( in 8th notes) and a shuffle ( in triplets).
5. Doing 4 but with hi-hat foot starting the lick again.

These are just a few ideas, but hopefully it will get you thinking about different ways you can utilize anything you learn. When you learn ten different things it can be challenging to link up all that information. If you learn ten different ways to play one thing, you develop theme and variation. This will enable you to have a vocabulary that you can fit into many musical situations.

Until next time.....


Thursday, August 10, 2017

RIP Glen Campbell



Q: What does this have to do with drums?

A: EVERYTHING!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Cautionary Influence

Perhaps I've mentioned this before, but an important factor in figuring in what you want to sound like is figuring out what you don't want to sound like. I recently was in a situation ( not teaching, mind you ) where I heard a bunch of bands rehearsing, and I was reminded of what I ( and maybe you ) need to focus on, because I wasn't hearing much of it.


1. Dynamic range
It's very fun to slam the drums and play aggressively but remember, differences in volume is how we create life and drama in the music.

2. Different styles
I feel it's important to work on different types of grooves, rather than just the ones we can play already or feel comfortable with. In my case, a lot of world music styles I have practiced have helped me immensely, even though I haven't played many of those type of gigs.

3. Brushes
This is a crucial aspect of drumming, whether you play Jazz or not.

4, Reading
See above.......

5. Music and tune learning, rather than "lick" learning
"Nuff said.......

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Inside The Drummer's Studio Part 10- Jack Mouse




I'm very pleased this post to publish an interview with the great Drummer/Educator Jack Mouse. Jack taught at a camp I attended in my teen years, and was ( and continues to be ) a profound influence on my playing.





Here's his bio:

Jack Mouse

Currently Assistant Professor of Music and Coordinator of Jazz Studies at North Central College, Jack has also served on the faculties of the American Conservatory of Music, Benedictine University, Saskatchewan School of the Arts, Clark Terry Great Plains Jazz Camp, National Stage Band Camps, Jamey Aebersold Combo-Improvisation Camps, Birch Creek Music Performance Center, International Peace Gardens, Melville Jazz Retreat.  As a member of the Bunky Green Quartet, he was among the first musicians to introduce jazz education to the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland.  He has been a faculty artist member of the Janice Borla Vocal Jazz Camp since its founding in 1989.



In 2012 Jack was the recipient of an Aquarian Award of Achievement, presented by Aquarian Drum Heads in acknowledgement of his contributions as a performer and jazz educator. In 2014  he was inducted into the Emporia High School Hall of Fame.
A longstanding member of the Janice Borla Group, Jack can be heard on Whatever We Imagine (P-Vine Records, Japan), Lunar Octave (DMP), Agents of Change and From Every Angle (Blujazz), named among DownBeat ‘s “Best CDs of 2007,” and Promises to Burn (Tall Grass), among DownBeat ‘s “Best CDs of 2014.” Also a member of the Dan Haerle Trio, he is heard on Truth of the Matter (Seagull Records), Standard Procedure (Blujazz), one of DownBeat’s “Best CDs of 2005,” and Aspiration (Seagull Records).  Jack’s multi-faceted career has been the subject of recent interviews in Modern Drummer and Jazz Improv magazines.  He has authored articles for Percussive Notes and the IAJE-Illinois Newsletter.  In 2005 he was a featured artist during the first online Virtual Percussion Festival presented at the University of Manitoba by the ALIVE Project (Accessible Live Internet Video Education).
The Jack Mouse Group’s 2012 CD Range of Motion (Origin Records), featuring his original compositions, includes Art Davis (trumpet), Scott Robinson (saxophone), John McLean (guitar), Bob Bowman and Kelly Sill (bass). The album received extensive international radio airplay, including 5 weeks on the Jazz Week Top 50 Chart and 9 weeks on the CMJ Top 40 Chart, and garnered many rave reviews: “A sure-handed, high energy drummer who dazzles with brushes.  A splendid album, well-written and quarterbacked by Mouse…Thumb up!” -- All About Jazz
He has since performed with such outstanding jazz artists as Stan Kenton, Clark Terry, Herb Ellis, Joe Williams, Carl Fontana, James Moody, Randy Brecker, Billy Taylor, Tim Ries, Stefan Karlsson, Steve Erquiaga, Frank Wess, Kai Winding, Kenny Burrell, Jon Faddis, Bob Mintzer, Bill Evans (saxophone),​ Murray McEachern, Sammy Nestico, Marc Johnson, Chuck Israels, James Williams, Gary Bartz, Bobby Watson, Bill Stapleton, Matt Harris, Steve Rodby, Dianne Reeves, Sheila Jordan, Janice Borla, Jay Clayton, Karrin Allyson, Judy Niemack, Roseanna Vitro, Kitty Margolis, Madeline Eastman, Judi Silvano, Suzanne Pittson, Cathy Segal-Garcia, Rosana Eckert, Peter Eldridge, Kate McGarry, the Four Freshmen, Jay McShann, Claude "Fiddler" Williams, Joshua Breakstone, Fareed Haque, Bobby Broom, Rufus Reid, Lou Marini, Mike Wofford, Holly Hoffman, Jack Reilly Trio, Bunky Green Quartet, Dan Haerle Trio, Buddy Childers, Claire Daly, Pete Malinverni, Phil Wilson, Matteson/Phillips Tuba Jazz Consort, Chicago Jazz Quintet, Johnny Smith, Roger Pemberton Big Band, Bobby Shew, Norris Turney, John LaPorta, Jerry Hahn, Chris Woods, Buster Cooper, Ashley Alexander, Frank Mantooth, Michael Mossman, Floyd Standifer, John McLean and Scott Robinson.
Jazz drummer Jack Mouse began playing at the early age of four, and by his late teens was already performing with such musical greats as Tex Beneke, Ralph Flanagan, Buddy Morrow, "Peanuts" Hucko and Red Norvo. Upon graduating from college, he spent three years as featured soloist with the “Falconaires,“ the official jazz ensemble of the U.S. Air Force Academy.
bio

 Jack has presented clinics and workshops at jazz festivals, music conventions, colleges and high schools throughout the world, and presents clinics online through the ALIVE Project.  He is a staff artist/clinician for Yamaha Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Aquarian Drum Heads and Vic Firth Drum Sticks.

2014 brought the debut of the Tall Grass Records label established by Jack and his wife, jazz vocalist Janice Borla.



1. Can you name a live performance and/or recording that has had a particularly profound effect on you?

There have been so many, but the recordings that inspired me early and still even today are the SHELLY MANNE & HIS MEN AT THE BLACK HAWK collection from 1959 (should be required listening for anyone interested in finding out what  "swing" is all about !)..... Chick Corea's NOW HE SINGS, NOW HE SOBS (in my opinion, Roy Haynes totally redefined contemporary jazz drumming on this album)..... MILES DAVIS LIVE AT THE PLUGGED NICKEL collection (all you have to do is listen to it !).

I also continue to be inspired by the work of many other drummers:   As I've mentioned, Shelly Manne, Roy Haynes and Tony Williams, but also Peter Erskine, Bill Stewart, Joey Baron, Ed Blackwell and Paul Motian, to name just a few.

2. You have spent a large part of your playing career working in the Chicago area, a city with a very rich and varied musical history. Do you feel that there are still stylistic differences between players in different parts of the US? If so, can you describe them?

I believe that the regional differences that used to be prevalent are rapidly disappearing.  In the past, you could often tell if a musician came out of New Orleans, New York, Kansas City, Chicago, or the West Coast.  Today, what with everyone being so closely connected via the internet and social media, the geographical traits are becoming rather hazy.  I'm not so sure whether that's a good thing or not.

3. As well as performing, you also have a busy teaching schedule. Do you notice anything lacking in some younger players that you feel they should address?

The level of craft has increased considerably.  Younger players are certainly playing the instrument better than ever before.  The bad news is that, all too often, their skills are emulative rather than creative.  Young musicians spend far too much time striving to sound and play like their heroes.  Imitation has always been an essential part of the learning process as a means to an end, but should never be the goal in a creative improvisational art form.  Jazz musicians should be voices, not just echoes.  Virtually all truly creative, innovative people I have ever encountered have one trait in common.... CURIOSITY.  Not just about music, but in all other art forms and indeed, all facets of life.  This requires great patience, concentration, egoless passion and the ability to not be totally self-serving.  Again, these are attributes that are being eradicated by the gross misuse of technology.

For the past 22 years I have held a half-time position as program coordinator of the jazz studies program and drum set instructor for the esteemed Jazz Studies Program at North Central College in the Chicago suburb of Naperville.  I attempt to impart certain values and principles to all of my students.....Every night when you lay your head down on your pillow, you need to be able to say to yourself, “I'm a better musician today than I was yesterday".....When you practice, you should practice as though everyone is watching, so that when you perform, you can play as though no one is watching.......  Being a professional musician is a love/hate relationship:  you must unconditionally love the music and absolutely hate playing it badly.

4. Speaking of your teaching, when I studied with you, George Lawrence Stone’s Stick Control figured very prominently in your teaching method. After all this time and the number of books and videos that have come along since then, is this still the case?

Yes, the Stone method has always been a part of my teaching, as well as Ted Reed's Syncopation method and Marv Dahlgren's Four Way Coordination.  Also, Roy Burns has recently released a method through Kendor entitled Relaxed Hand Playing which I am finding very useful.  But a mainstay of my teaching is what I call “melodic transcription.”  Drum set solo transcriptions are all well and good; but I believe that transcribing melodic solos (horn solos etc..) and applying them to the drum set is, perhaps, a better use of time and energy, not only as soloists, but as effective accompanists.  As drummers we often rely on the rhythmic language of the drums.  I believe that the highest form of improvisation is conversational.  Consequently, if we are to participate in musical conversation with other musicians, we should learn and use the rhythmic vernacular with which they are comfortable.  For a far more detailed explanation of this process, please feel free to visit my website at www.jackmouse.com and read the article that I authored for the Percussive Arts journal a few years ago.

Another mainstay of my instruction is what I call "Rhythmic Counterpoint."  For the past 30+ years, I have been writing a method book dealing with the process, and after years of rewritings, I am finally ready to release the book this year through our publishing company TALL GRASS PUBLICATIONS.  The method is designed to provide a higher level of four-appendage technique and, more importantly, to open portals to more creative playing and ultimately the development of a personal style.

5. Can you explain the inspiration for Flashpoint Creative Arts,  the non-profit organization that you founded with Janice Borla?

Flashpoint Creative Arts is, what we feel, a logical next artistic step.  For 26 years we created and produced the internationally renowned JANICE BORLA VOCAL JAZZ CAMP......the first event of its kind to focus on solo jazz vocal performance.  So, folks aren't necessarily surprised to hear that we are embarking on this monumental endeavor.  Essentially, Flashpoint’s mission is to promote improvisation as a means of artistic expression beyond it use in the jazz genre.

Again, to learn more about Flashpoint and mission statement, please visit:  http://www.flashpointcreativearts.org

Flashpoint's current - and most challenging - project is to launch a weeklong event, projected for the summer of 2019.  A multi-disciplinary free improvisational arts festival (yet to be formally titled) which will bring together artists (musicians, dancers, poets graphic artists, etc...) from all over the globe to present collaborative, freely improvised performances and, of course, educational experiences.  We'll keep you posted.

6. What are your future plans for Tall Grass Records, the label you co-founded? As well, what are your plans for yourself as an individual musician?

For many years we had been released albums on established record labels.  Eventually you become weary of being told what to record and, to put it rather un-delicately, of being taken advantage of financially.

So, we consulted with many folks we trust in the business, and the unanimous consensus was that we had been around long enough with enough of a professional track record that we really didn't need an established record label to widely release our music.  So in 2014 we released the Janice Borla Group's PROMISES TO BURN on our Tall Grass Records label, followed by the Jack Mouse/Scott Robinson Duo's SNAKEHEADS & LADYBUGS in 2015 and THREE STORY SANDBOX (myself, Scott and Janice) in 2016.  The last two are recordings of entirely free improvisations.  Flashpoint Creative Arts will also function as an umbrella organization for Tall Grass Records, Tall Grass Publishing and Tall Grass Productions, which will act as management/booking service for the Janice Borla Group, the Jack Mouse Group, the Dan Haerle Trio, the Jack Mouse/Scott Robinson Duo and Three Story Sandbox.  As our lease agreements with previous record labels expire, we plan to re-release those recordings on Tall Grass Records.

As for my personal plans:  This summer we will be recording the next Jack Mouse Group recording of entirely original compositions as a follow-up to our 2013 release RANGE OF MOTION (Origin Records--Origin #82633)… As usual, I practice every day to get better, but I have to say that no one gets any more tired of hearing me play than I do.  So, I also practice everyday to get DIFFERENT.  Finally, I hope to continue to maintain an active touring schedule as a performer and clinician and a positive and productive relationship with my industry sponsors:  Yamaha Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Aquarian Drum Heads and Vic Firth Drum Sticks.

Monday, May 22, 2017

RIP Mickey Roker

I say Mr. Roker play only once in Philadelphia, not long after this was recorded. I also got to chat with him very briefly and he was warm and gracious.




Rest in peace Mr. Roker and thank you for all the beautiful sounds.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Buddy Rich on practice pads

Ha! Another rant! (I blame it on Trump).
Anyway, those of you who have followed the blog know I'm not a fan of practice pads. Buddy Rich seems to agree with me! I have included a small excerpt from a Charley Perry interview with Mr. Rich that Scott K. Fish posted on his excellent Life Beyond the Cymbals blog.
It's unfortunate more players don't listen to the wisdom in many things Buddy mentions. In other words, do as he says, not as he does!

Buddy Rich: What are you going to use on the job, a pad or a snare drum? A snare drum of course! Then why strive to adjust to the response and sound of a practice pad, when you must then readjust to the characteristics of a snare drum? [SKF NOTE: Charlie Perry deleted Buddy’s word “strive,” and replaced it with the word “bother.”]

A snare drum has “sound” – tone. You can work with pitch and duration. These qualities are missing in a pad.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Get a grip

Hey folks,
No time, no blog. I apologize.
Generally, I don't wade into the traditional vs. matched grip wars online. I am an exclusively matched grip player, but I have always felt it's up to an individual player to decide on the grip or grips that work best for them, HOWEVER,  a discussion I came across on my social media feed annoyed me significantly enough that I feel I need to comment. Here's my 2 cents:

1. Any grip requires time and effort.
This may seem obvious, but whatever grip or grips you use, make sure you can play them effectively! Don't "slum" on a grip you can't actually play. Usually when a student pulls out traditional grip all of the sudden ( this seems to mainly happen with this grip, for reasons i will explain later ) I usually ask if they can play buzz, single stroke, and double stroke rolls cleanly with that method of holding the sticks. if the answer is no, I tell them they don't play that grip and if they want to use it they have a lot of practicing ahead of them.

2, The grip you play has nothing to do with the style of music you are playing.
I cannot stress this enough. One learns a style from listening to recordings in that style and playing it with others. It drives me crazy when people with no clue how to play traditional grip ( see item 1 ) start to do some half-baked version of it because they think it makes them play Jazz better ( or even worse, because it looks cool).  If you think that's going to help you, perhaps you should start wearing a beret and start growing that goatee!

3. Brushes can be a little less comfortable INITIALLY with matched grip.
Usually matched grip players have to experiment with their seat and snare drum height when working on brushes. it also can be problematic if one's grip is too German. The point is, if you have good technique with matched grip with sticks, why would you want to start over again with a grip you may not play at all? Be patient, it gets easier!

4. The term "traditional" is a misnomer.
I think this is significant as well. What tradition are we talking about here? In the U.S.A., early drummers played traditional grip because their drums were tilted. But what about the European tradition? Tympanists and mallet percussion players have always played matched grip, and one can argue that the symphonic tradition in Europe goes back farther than the marching tradition in the states.

In conclusion, again, use whatever grip works for you. I have no problem with traditional grip, I just feel that sometimes it can come with baggage that doesn't have much to do with music. Okay, Rant over. A bientot!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Happy Birthday George Benson

Just a short post today. I found this footage on social media today. Check out the wonderful and extremely underrated Joe Dukes! Wow!




It's also worth noting that the trading of solos including the 4 bars of stop time is a great way of letting the rhythm section conserve their energy in a fast tune like this!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Asymmetrical stockings Part 2

I've been seeing a few of these type of things recently in Cruise Ship Drummer and Max Senitt's site, which makes me think there might be this mass drum consciousness we're all turned into!
Anyway, it's simple a paradiddle and an extras stroke and the same thing off of the left hand, thusly:
RLRRLRLLR/LRLLRLRRL
A nice nine beat sticking played off of each hand. Some possible things to do with it.

!) A bar of triplets in 3/4. Could be an afro cuban thing possible
2) Same as 1) but could play it in four so it goes over the barline.
3) Played as 8th notes in 4 so it goes over the barline.
4) Played as two bars of 9/8
5) Played as an odd grouping nonet in two bars of 4/4

etc. etc. etc.
Have fun!

Saturday, February 18, 2017